Keynote   Denver


Antonio R. Villaraigosa

Keynote | Mayor of Los Angeles, California (2005-2013)

Antonio Villaraigosa started his career as a labor and community leader. He also served as President of the Southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1994, he was elected to the California State Assembly and three years later, was elected Assembly Speaker. Villaraigosa’s tenure as Speaker of the Assembly was defined by his ability to build consensus – leading to a $9 billion school bond measure and a $2 billion park bond, the largest to be enacted by the Legislature. Villaraigosa also authored the bill authored the Healthy Families program for nearly three-quarters of a million uninsured children.

In 2005, Villaraigosa was elected Mayor of Los Angeles. As the 41st Mayor of Los Angeles, Villaraigosa prioritized improving education—doubling the number of high-performing schools and increasing graduation rates from 44% to 72%. Villaraigosa’s transportation agenda expanded Los Angeles’s public transit system and raised $40 billion through Measure R for transportation projects. Under his leadership on the environment, Los Angeles was the first big city to set a goal to become independent of coal by 2025 and the city reduced overall greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 30 percent.

Villaraigosa grew up in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles and was raised by a single mother. He was a high school dropout until a public school teacher, Herman Katz, gave him a second shot, which is why he knows firsthand how education can open doors and change the course of a life. From there, he went to community college, then to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the People’s College of Law, a night school dedicated to public interest law.